Stick it to ya

Your local tattoo shop might not be using a pen and ink to give tattoos, but someone on your campus might be.

They’re called stick-and-poke tattoos: instead of using a gun, you only need something sharp and some ink. It’s usually a small tattoo, and most believe it to be temporary.

Stick-and-poke kits are available online for less than 100$. But their cheap cost and growing popularity among students doesn’t mean they’re risk-free.

Here are the three main dangers: – Skin infections

– Allergic reactions to either the needle or the ink used.

– Transmitting blood borne disease such as HIV and others.

Emma Steinke is a stick-and-poke tattoo artist who first discovered stick-and-poke through Instagram.

When she was 16, she started looking for different tattoo designs. Stick-and-poke was more appealing.

“I liked the style more than machine tattoos,” said Steinke.

Steinke knew what she wanted when she started looking for an artist that she would be comfortable getting tattooed by. She wanted a woman artist, and many stick-and-poke artists are women. It’s one of the reasons why younger people that are looking for small designs tend to look into stick-and-poke.

In December of 2017, Steinke decided that she was going to be a stick-and-poke artist herself.

“I ordered some stuff on Amazon and just started tattooing myself in my dorm room,” said Steinke. What made her decide to try was the fact that she wanted small designs, but didn’t want to pay for it. The best solution was to just do it herself.

Before buying anything she talked to other tattoo artists as well as doing some research online. Looking for the best material she could get that also wouldn’t cost too much.

For her, becoming a stick-and-poke artist or getting this sort of tattoo is a fun way to make new friends. What attracts her most to it is the personal aspect that comes with either giving or getting a stick-and-poke. Even if, in the end, it all comes down to personal taste.

After a year of practice, Steinke knows more about how to avoid the risks that come with stick-and-pokes. She makes sure that the needles, ink, cups and gloves that she uses are single-use. She boils or sterilises everything with alcohol that may come in contact with the person getting the tattoo. These are the precautions that every artist should take.

“Make sure that it’s a professional tattoo needle, single use, sterile,” said Steinke.

For Steinke the idea of getting a stick-and-poke goes with going to an art school. She also shared that, in her opinion, getting a stick-and-poke hurts less than a gun tattoo. It’s not as abrasive and punchy.

“I had never had one of my tattoos be even irritated,” said Steinke, “as long as you don’t go put your arm in a lake before the tattoo is healed you are pretty safe.”

Even if it is her favorite way of getting a tattoo, Steinke said that she feels that the majority of people are still reluctant to get stick-and-pokes. She knows that both styles are very different. Steinke also made it clear that it is harder to imitate an already existing drawing with stick-and-pokes than with a gun.

“Have low expectations,” said Steinke. “You are getting a homemade tattoo.”